Mecham out, Debbie Peterson in on county board race

March 10, 2015
Debbie Peterson

Debbie Peterson


Former Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson announced Tuesday plans to run against San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill for the District 3 seat while District 1 Supervisor Frank Mecham said he will not be running for reelection.

San Luis Obispo City Councilman Daniel Carpenter said he is also considering running for the District 3 supervisor seat.

Peterson filed an intention to run for supervisor in 2016 with the clerk recorder on Friday.

Peterson, who said she will hold a press conference in the next few weeks to outline her platform, said she opposes development in Cherry and Price canyons and the Nipomo Mesa without the developer having first secured sufficient water sources for each project. In addition, she is concerned about development in the airport flight path.

“I cannot support housing in an area that an expert citizen advisory committee opposes for reasons of safety,” Peterson said.

A real estate broker, Peterson served on the Grover Beach Planning Commission for four years, followed by four years as a Grover Beach City Council Member and most recently, as mayor, 2012-2014. During her mayoral term, Peterson advocated reorganization of the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District, taking it from losses of $1 million a year to operating in the black.

Peterson says that she will bring strive to bring a more collaborative approach to problem solving on the SLO Board of Supervisors.

“The SLO County Board of Supervisors has been limited by supervisors whose leadership style advocates “collegiality” (go along to get along) while threatening and demeaning colleagues and community members who hold dissenting viewpoints,” Peterson said. “The Board will be more effective in serving the community when supervisors address one another and the community with respect and embrace spirited discourse to reach solutions.”

When District 1 Supervisor Frank Mecham first ran for office in 2008, he said he would only run for two terms making this his last. However, last month he said he was not ready to disclose his intentions.

“Originally I had intended to announce in June of this year my intentions on whether or not I will run for re-election,” Mecham said. “However, I’ve decided to announce earlier that I will not be running for re-election in 2016. I am declaring this now to allow ample time for those that wish to seek this position the opportunity to mount a campaign to do so.”

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Shoals literally went door to door, promising transparency. I saw him do it. I personally talked to him. I asked him why he didn’t do it before. He didn’t give me an answer worth a crap. Shoals is the Obama of Grover. It makes you feel good to vote for him, plus how many candidates come to your house to vote for them???? NOT ME lol.

Grover beach does NOT need more housing without their sanitation issues cleared up and until the mafioso like warnings to the homeowners threatening double the water bills to stop. If Debbie runs against Adam Hill, that will be the MOST INTERESTING campaign in years.

She has been the first person locally, besides the new AG Mayor, I have actuallly really seen in South County really get things DONE (besides “after hours” if ya know what I mean??!) ba da boom!

I’m down for Debbie. Time for a little liberal eye-candy on the board (note to Adam).

omg omg omg I am so excited I feel like a little kid. Dan Carpenter would be perfect for the job. Frankly, I would for him for just about any position he ran for. Talk about a straightforward guy. He walks around town and is willing to speak to anyone. He always gives a direct answer and explanation for why he voted the way he did on something. He is exactly the kind of leader we need more of.

Clearly there is a refreshing air of clarity and commitment. Both admirable and well intended.

Burnout? Has anyone interviewed Sam Blakeslee and now Frank Mecham on the real reason WHY they decided not to rerun for office? I’d love to read book/blog from either of them.

Not sure about Mr. Blakeslee but as for Mr. Mecham, part of the reason is because he said he would hold office only for this amount of time and then move on, and as hard as it to believe an official actually kept his word. It is not something we are used to seeing in our elected officials, the truth and keeping their words.

Frank Mexham has said from the very beginning that he would only serve two terms as supervisor. He stuck to his word. One more reason to admire the guy.

Cindy Steinbeck for Mecham’s seat?

Hey Gsan, given your comment about Cindy Steinbeck has gotten so many thumbs down, what is it about her that many seem not to like, I would think you have an idea why, and likely would disagree but it help some understand if you would share.

I’m not Gsan, but here’s my take. Cindy Steinbeck stood up and against the powers that be, Mecham and the wine industry, and Hill and Gibson, on the formation of a water district that seemed to be the answer in the beginning. However, after it came back from the California legislature, the water district had the power to sell water outside the county, and out of county owners had a legal way to be part of the control through their managers who live in the count;y. This information is not widely known, but sets up the control of basin water to possibly be handled by large corporate wineries who can (and will) sell water outside the county. While I personally disagree with Cindy on the moratorium and believe that it’s the only way we have right now to limit new vineyards and water users, Cindy was right on the formation of a Mecham, Gibson, Hill type water district. When and if, North County property owners understand that they will give control of the basin to outsiders, they will support the Steinbeck proposal. Until then, the Mecham/wine industry groupies think she is just a troublemaker.

“who live in the county (not country)”.

The wine industry is already exporting water out of the basin – 750 ml at a time.

Every once in a while someone will leave a memorable comment. Good job cooperdog.

It’s called water mining, and it is illegal.

Agreed. I observed Cindy at all of the Board meetings and came to respect her greatly, though I’m not in complete agreement.

Thumbs down are likely from low-information folks. Sadly those individuals usually are not deliberating the issues very much so we are left to guess on the foundation of their stance.

Cindy is a conservative. Likely many of the thumbs down are based on that solely.

Please see Citizen’s helpful comments.

Bring on the candidates. Elevate the debate. Make Adam Hill fight for the seat.

Ms.Peterson impresses me, she seems to operate on a no nonsense platform,she speaks

her mind and I’ve thought fairly well,she was not in favor of the apcd’s raping of the state for

1000$ a day fines she saw right thru the crap and saw it for what it was, a money grab,if

I feel she would keep an eye on that board and question its motives. Ms Peterson also leans

leans towards keeping Cherry Canyon under control,thats going to be a hard one as the

gronola bunch want to take it out of public hands and give it to the state,where it will no longer

generate taxes for the county,we have enough dirt out of the tax rolls as it is,and seh also

stepped up to try to get the sewer issue in So County cleared up, I think she might have

her head screwed on straight.

I have the utmost respect for Dan Carpenter and Debbie Peterson and I’m glad to see that they are running/may run in District III. But…

Debbie faces one key challenge. How does she justify running for county supervisor when she lost her re-election as mayor of Grover Beach? If the people of Grover Beach don’t support her, why should the rest of the district? She is going to have to come up with a good answer for that.

Dan faces a different challenge. He is unknown outside of SLO and the local Democratic committee, still angry that he won a city council seat, will be waiting to pounce. It will be hard to tell who will be pouncing more–John Ashbaugh or Jan Marx. Dan will have to be ready and tough for the onslaught about to come his way once the Ochs/Fulks smear machine kicks in. Hard to say how Dan will do. He’s going to need lots of money to match all the developer money that will go to Supervisor Hill.

The good news for the anti-Hill crowd is that a combined Carpenter/Peterson strategy would force a runoff election, the first time for Supervisor Hill.

The lingering question remains whether or not Mayor John Shoals gets into the race. I personally think John could beat Supervisor Hill and his candidacy is the supervisor’s worst nightmare. The problem is that Shoals works at PG&E and his boss is Tom Jones, Hill’s BBF. So watch and see if Shoals quits PG&E. If he does, he’s running. If not, well…

Sam Blakeslee is reportedly combing disgruntled Democratic ranks to try and find an old guard Democrat to challenge Hill. There’s still a chance that Sam would jump in himself. If Sam does, the election is over.

Of course, all this assumes that Adam Hill will actually remain a candidate through November 2016, an eternity away. Make no mistake, the guy is a formidable campaigner and the presumption has to go with his being re-elected. But there are rumors surrounding his wife, Dee Torres and her legal battle against CAPSLO and Supervisor Hill may encounter a few unpleasant surprises of his own by the end of the year.

Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be a tough, nasty, vicious race!

Intriguing premise but not one I share. First, Grover is just a small portion of the district. The majority of voters are in SLO and then there’s Pismo. The Grover election was a personality contest. John raised no substantive issues against Debbie.

Secondly, John is a lobbyist for a corporation that has been largely discredited for it’s lobbying practices, particularly with the PUC. I question how that would play in this left-leaning, well-educated district.

Thirdly, Debbie is smart, hard-working and does her homework better than any elected official I’ve ever observed. A contest between a reasonable, thoughtful candidate and one who is rabidly political provides informed voters a clear choice. I believe Debbie wins that one if she makes it through the primary.

Fourth, right out the gate Debbie said no major development when there is no sustainable water source. That’s a clear, easily understood distinction between her and the best friend developers have on the Board of Supervisors. Throw in the overt pressure to allow development of homes within the airport safety zone and I believe we have a major issue that third district voters can get behind.

All that said, I do agree that two or more challengers will lead to a November runoff which is highly unfavorable for the incumbent. And we still haven’t heard who the COLAB/Republican Central Committee may be offering up. With Mecham’s announcement they may just skip this district and go all out in the north county to assure majority control of the Board.

All-in-all, this is shaping up to be a fascinating election.

Also, the question must be asked, How many of those in Grover Beach that voted for Mayor Shoals would not do so now?, given the clear signs that Mayor Shoals is stonewalling all attempts to change things at the sanitation district, with his childish behavior of not being able to attend a needed special meeting and making sure his alternate can not. One main reason behind having an alternate is in the case you can not attend your alternate can, Mayor Shoals your alternate clearly can not perform their duties so if you really are not stonewalling things replace your alternate with someone who can perform the job.

The alternate on the Sanitation District Board is chosen by THE GOVERNING BODY of the city or district. It is the City Council or the OCSD board that chooses the alternate. Shoals refused to replace Bill Nicolls (the alternate he chose unilaterally) when asked to do so by a majority of the Council on three occasions in 2011 and 2012. He violated the Health & Safety Code and deceived the Council, who were led to believe that it was Shoals’ prerogative to choose his alternate, not that of the Council. Had Shoals played fair Nicolls would have been replaced much sooner and the Sanitation District would have been in much better shape.

Sanitation District Bylaws


SECTION 4730-4735

4730. The presiding officer of the governing body of each city or district… is a member of the board.

(3) The governing body of each county, city, sanitation district, and public agency having a representative on the board of directors may designate one of its members to act in the place of its regular member in his or her absence or his or her inability or refusal to act.

I can’t disagree with anything you’re saying, Mike. The difference with Shoals is that he would appeal to the Cal Poly liberal guard that dominates SLO because he would be the first black county supervisor. I hate to make this about race, but it would be a factor that Hill can’t control. I’m not suggesting Shoals will make a great supervisor or even that he should run. But I believe John is Hill’s worst nightmare among current incumbents in District 3.

Maybe. John is definitely smooth as silk. That’s his job description. But I think a corporate lobbyist could have a tough time appealing to an educated left – leaning constituency. These tend to be folks who pay attention and are informed when they vote.

Agreed. That’s why Shoals would have to resign from PG&E if he were to run. He’d have to distance himself from them as much as possible. It will be interesting to see what he does.

I don’t think this member of the educated left would

be fooled by a resignation of political convenience.

He may be smooth as silk, but many can see through his disingenuous ‘oh, I am so concerned, and happy to hear from the public’ routine.

IMO, watching Shoals is like watching a puppet- – – makes me wonder who’s really pulling the strings.

Mike, are you saying informed voters elected Adam Hill?

That theory may fly for the first go-round, but how do you explain the second?

Adam Hill WAS deserving of respect in 2008. He was the real deal back then. He didn’t go over to the Dark Side until after he was elected. Very sad, cautionary tale.

One other name to toss out as a possible candidate is Democrat Heidi Harmon. She might consider a challenge to Hill.

Dave, isn’t Harmon running for assembly?

Adam Hill haters = President Obama haters.

It’s the same troglodyte/Republican gang, Dave …and you drink their kool-ade !

You never connect the dots where it is fairly simple to do so just reading comments here.

The only difference is that President Obama has to hold his tongue, lest he be labeled even more as an ‘angry black man’.

Adam has had to confront these same morons, and has not been as patient.

You think Republicans turn ‘nice’ or ‘civil’ or ‘smart’ when they are your neighbors ?

Have I got a bridge to sell you !

Your equation is completely wrong, as is demonstrated by

the number of left-leaning folks posting here who

routinely and soundly criticize Hill for his nincompoopery.

It is a left-leaning district with a lot of Cal Poly and Democratic leanings. When the choices are a flawed Democrat and a staunch Republican, there is no contest in this district. If the choices next year include another Democrat and an independent the math changes dramatically.

I will vote for a civilizationalist against an anti-civilizationalist .

Party labels are just masquerades intended to fool the suckers.

Fascinating analysis. It will be interesting how many people ultimately get into the race and just how the voting pie is ultimately cut-up.

I think Dan Carpenter has displayed the savvy, mettle and intellect to win. He would certainly be a breath of fresh air compared to the toxic Hill and frankly I believe he’s more able than Peterson — both as a politician and a candidate.

You’re exactly right about the Democratic Central Committee. Carpenter beat them and their derrieres orifices have been on fire ever since. That could well against them however if they are not careful.

I’m surprised you didn’t mention the “Tribune factor?” Maybe because there really isn’t one anymore? The Tribune’s endorsement won’t mean squat in this election — and it may never again in any other election. This election will be a time for CCN to really come into its own.

In the end I believe Blakeslee is going to back Carpenter and Dan will victoriously slog though a real cesspool of an election.

Debbie is out in GB because the electorate is so small. Shoals is Tony’s revenge, he knows what he’s doing. I think Debbie Peterson would be an appropriate supervisor for the third district.

I’d like to see someone from the City of SLO…

I’d prefer a district re-alignment. Things have changed, demographics have changed, back when done having a slice of the city SLO in several districts may have been needed, but the need is past. Time to realign districts, the city of SLO really only needs to have only one, at most two districts slices. Having it done so that a district covers a certain area and then has a slice of the city of SLO does a disservice to the majority area, often they have different concerns than the small slice of the city of SLO. Districts should align with the concerns of the given area, not to give a city more slices at the pie.

How about two counties divided by the ridge line? SLO will continue on becoming Santa Barbara and Paso will continue on being Santa Maria.

Dan Carpenter is from the City of SLO.


Really? Isn’t the County BOS corrupt enough as it is?